South African student team takes third place at supercomputing competition in Germany

The South African supercomputing team that participated in the International Student Cluster Competition in Frankfurt, Germany, scooped third prize, after Tsinghua University, China who took 1st prize and  Nanyang Technological University, Singapore who clinched 2nd place.

The team of six, made up of undergraduate computer science and engineering students from the Universities of the Witwatersrand and Limpopo, was one of 12 teams from around the world that participated in the prestigious challenge from 25 to 27 June 2018.


The team said it was excited to have been placed third in spite of the tough competition.  They squared off against the following teams:

  • Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
  • The Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre at the University of Edinburgh, UK
  • Polytechnic University of Catalonia, Spain.
  • Kasetsart University, Thailand.
  • Hamburg University, Germany
  • Heidelberg University, Germany.
  • Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany.
  • The Federal University of Paraná, Brazil.
  • The University of Warsaw, Poland
  • Tsinghua University, China.ShanghaiTech University, China.


The students showcase computing systems of their own design, adhere to strict power constraints and seek to achieve the highest performance across a series of standard high-performance computing benchmarks and applications.


South Africa has been participating in the international competition since 2013 and won it in 2013, 2014 and 2016, coming second in 2015 and 2017.  It is one of the few teams that consists entirely of undergraduate students, and that sends different students each year.


Before participating, the members of the team received extensive training from the Centre for High Performance Computing (CHPC), an initiative of the Department of Science and Technology and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.


The CHPC's Director, Dr Happy Sithole, said that the placing was "a significant achievement for South Africa".  The CHPC hoped to increase the number of students who received exposure of this kind in the field of high-performance computing.  "In the past six years we have had 36 students performing well on the world stage," he said.


The South African team was chosen from 10 participating teams at a national student cluster supercomputing competition held in December last year.


Team selection for the national competition takes place at the CHPC's Winter School, which is designed to impart critical knowledge for building a cluster.  This includes using Linux systems, the basic software stack of a cluster, and considerations that should be taken into account when choosing hardware.  Team selection concludes with an assignment that requires each team to build a prototype cluster in the Cloud.


This year's team – Meir Rosendorff, Joshua Bruton, Kimessha Paupamah, Katleho Mokoena, Nathan Michlo and Njabulo Sithole – return to South Africa tomorrow evening.  After all their hard work, they said that they planned to hire bicycles and cycle around Frankfurt "doing touristy things".


Issued by the Department of Science and Technology and the Centre for High Performance Computing.


For more information contact Nox Moyake (CHPC) at 072 026 6762 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and Thabang Setlhare (DST) at 072 659 9690 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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